A teenage con artist finds himself in too deep when he impersonates a missing boy from a rich family.
The white protagonist in this new thriller from Terrill (All Our Yesterdays, 2013) never divulges his name; he is a runaway passing as an anonymous minor in a youth shelter to escape the Canadian cold. To buy himself time when pressured by authorities, he claims that he is Daniel Tate, an American boy who had disappeared without a trace from his home six years before. Events quickly spiral out of his control from there, as Daniel’s white, millionaire family swoops in to collect him and bring him home with them, where he is welcomed, to varying degrees, under their watchful eyes. “Danny” starts to get comfortable in his new surroundings, until it becomes chillingly clear to him that all is not right in the Tate household: someone knows his secret and it is in their best interest that he remains Daniel Tate. The narrative moves slowly and ploddingly toward this reveal, though the pace of the story quickens once our protagonist is motivated by his complicity in the tangle of lies to uncover what really happened to Danny Tate. The unreliable-narrator trope is employed to ostentatious but flimsy effect here, and uneven pacing leads to an ending that feels rushed and unsatisfying.
A mystery thriller that falls short of thrilling. (Thriller. 14-18)